24: Legacy Stalls In Episode 5

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When the original 24 series began, the show tapped into the fears many Americans had in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks and continued that momentum as a show where the nation was constantly under threat and the government always one step behind. 

Last night’s episode of 24: Legacy left all that behind with an episode focused mostly on hoping viewers invest in storylines mostly about a drug-dealer’s business woes and a family’s internal dispute. This episode could have easily been 30 minutes instead of 60 because most of it was filler and little of it moved the Eric Carter storyline forward. 

Thankfully, the storyline with Nilaa Mizrani possibly leaking the Army Rangers’ names ended with her being cleared of guilt and Senator Donovan’s father being hauled into CTU for questioning. The turn gave Senator Donovan (Jimmy Smits) a great moment facing down his father when Donovan’s father begins lying about his involvement with the terrorists. 

Amira and Hassan arrive home and find their father, who is suspicious of their work in America and eventually reveals he suspects them of terrorism. Amira and Hassan take their father hostage. It’s another obvious example that the writers do not quite know how to fill the terrorists’ time before they are called upon to launch their attack and asking viewers to quickly invest in a story and character they have just met. 

Issac Carter arrives back home completely paranoid and afraid after nearly being killed by an associate and in search of possible moles. Over the course of the episode, Nicole Carter counsels him on how to navigate his difficulties. 

The Amira/Hassan and Issac Carter drug-dealing stories made me feel like I am watching three different shows that are not connected or moving toward formulating a climactic end of the series. While there is a little connection between all three plots they lack the emotional turmoil and forward momentum the original series had during its best seasons. 

The episode did have one shining aspect – Eric Carter and Ben Grimes. The pair arrives and meets Gabriel the arms dealer, who is suspicious of their motives despite being offered the Onyx missile system plans. The scene gave viewers a good moment when Eric is asked to kill Ben but refuses. That little twist further established Eric as his own character separate from Jack Bauer and having limits to what he is willing to do to succeed in a situation. Gabriel’s associate kills Ben, putting that skittish character out of his misery. 

The episode ends with CTU and Carter killing Gabriel’s associates and Gabriel taking his own life. 

Overall, most of the episode felt stalled until the last five minutes. The best seasons of the original 24 series kept the plot moving even when the writers had to reset the story partway through the season. That is key to any 24 season – movement – but 24: Legacy is failing that. 

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24: Legacy Struggles To Find A Focus

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24: Legacy, unsurprisingly, lost a lot of momentum during Monday night’s episode. 

The episode started quickly with Senator Donovan’s aide, Nilla, being questioned about her involvement in leaking the identities of the Army Rangers to the terrorists, but the episode quickly devolved into filler as the writers clearly struggled to set up a new terrorist plot for Carter and others to stop. 

In fairness, the old 24 series, often had to reset the plot and start a new story arc after several episodes. That takes time, viewer patience and creativity. Writing a 24 episodes of an action thriller, or even 12-episodes, is incredibly difficult in the real time format. Most of the time, 24  accomplished plot resets elegantly, especially in seasons 1, 2, 5 and 7.

The story’s main plot became its biggest liability. Senator Donovan learns his father, Henry, was the person who leaked the Rangers’ names to the terrorists. Henry explains that the terrorists learned his company had bought oil from ISIS and used that information to blackmail him to gain the Rangers’ names. Henry says he leaked the names and framed Nilla in order to stop his son’s campaign from imploding. That explanation stretches credulity and lacks creativity, even by 24 standards. 

Issac Carter’s drug dealing storyline continued with Nicole finally warning him about the plot to kill him. This plot, at least right now, is completely unconnected from the main storyline and serves no creative purpose for telling Eric Carter’s story or developing his character. 

Nicole got an action scene though when she held Issac’s drug associates at gunpoint to save herself. Nicole was quickly arrested immediately afterward, and in a totally totally unbelievable twist, Issac bribed two officers to let Nicole go again. That silly twist gutted the dramatic impact of her action scene. 

The episode hit a low point when Amira murdered her high school friend in an attempt to kept her terror plot concealed. In episode 2, it looked as if this subplot was moving toward the main storyline but it diverted into the needless black hole.

Back in the Eric Carter storyline, Carter arrives at CTU and proposes a way to capture the terrorists and stop the plot – using a weapons system blueprint as bait to lure the terrorists into a trap and arrest them. The proposal is straight out of the classic 24 playbook and unsurprisingly, CTU Director Mullins nixes it. As if she was channeling Jack Bauer, Rebecca Ingram tasks CTU analyst Andy with getting the plans to give to Carter and execute the capture plan. The twist is a recycling of at least one 24 story device during which Bauer obtains a list of undercover agents and uses it to lure a villain to her arrest. 

Overall, Monday’s episode dragged, had little plot progress and had no character development and reused some old 24 story devices. At the moment, the story shows no hope of recovering quickly because Eric Carter teamed up with Grimes again to recover the same list that Grimes last and failed to recover with Carter’s help over the last four episodes. 

24: Legacy, Episode 3: Back to Basics

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24: Legacy is slowing improving and seem to be getting back to basics.

Last nights episode ratcheted up the action, pace and energy over the series to a level not seen in the first two episodes. In fairness though, the first few episodes of the original series were sometimes bumpy and slow because it takes a while to build the foundation of a great story. It also takes a long time for viewers to becomes emotionally invested in new characters.

Despite the better story and character development,the writers are continuing to delve further into the dreadful high school plot. 

The episode resumed with Eric Carter trapped inside the police station, cutoff from CTU support and looking for an escape route. Carter showed some ingenuity and creativity by using the breaching charge he made to escape the police station. Carter continued to establish himself as a unique character living outside the shadow of Jack Bauer when he peacefully talked his way out of the short hostage situation with the police after escaping the evidence room.

However, the show continued to rely on forced plot turns, which were too frequent in the old series, to advance the high school/terrorist plot. While the overall idea of this subplot was not believable, it did show signs of life and importance during the last episode. Reviving the deceased student seemed forced, uncreative and not necessary to ratcheting up the pressure on the characters to follow through on their terrorist goals. 

The strongest moments of the episode came with the Carter/Grimes/sleeper cell list plot, which gave viewers the deepest emotional and creative moments of the series. With Carter continuing to pursue the sleeper cell list from Grimes, we see the pair rekindle their emotional bond, in an authentic way, while riding the train to the metro station. The conversation has the two friends recalling the strengths of their bond and feeling the tension of their frayed relationship.

The Senator Donovan storyline is developing in a creative, satisfying way. The writers previously led us to believe Donovan’s campaign manager is a terrorist, but it turns out that was a misdirection of the kind 24 loves to do.

Also, the show ended with a fantastic action scene with Carter and CTU agents attempting to recover the list from Grimes inside a metro station. One of 24’s greatest strengths has always been elaborate action scenes. The episode ends with the list in the hands of the terrorists and Grimes injured. 

One gripe with the final action scene – a few camera shots of Carter pursuing the terrorists outside the station were poorly edited. The director was obviously trying to show off a unique cinematography method but edited the shots together too quickly.

Overall, 24: Legacy is beginning to feel like the better parts of the old series – multiple storylines advancing separately with a mix of creative action and intrigue that keeps viewers hooked. 

24: Legacy – More Action, Less Believeable

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When the former 24 series was at its best during season 5, the show deftly mixed the geopolitical storyline of negotiating a treaty with Russia with Jack Bauer’s identity being discovered and being forced to help stop a corrupt president. The actors brought intricate storylines to life with fantastic performances that culminated in one of the most shocking ends the series ever portrayed.

But all shows can overstay their welcome and tonight’s episode of 24: Legacy showed signs of that with more recycling of old plot devices.  Again, the episode made several wacky and unbelievable plot twists, even by 24 standards.

Overall, the second episode improved upon the first with much more plot and character development. It now appears all the subplots could weave together over the next few episodes.

The episode continued with another odd plot twist when Carter’s former Army Ranger squadmate, Ben Grimes, plans to sell a list of terrorist sleeper cells back to the terrorists. Despite his mental health issues, Grimes’s plans to sell the list asks viewers to believe that a former Army Ranger, who is supposed to live by a moral code, would violate that set of standards. Viewers won’t agree with that.

Another pitfall of the episode was asking viewers to care about the political machinations of Carter’s brother’s drug organization. It has no value to the main story and felt disconnected from the rest of the story.

Despite the continued recycling of plot devices, the main story and subplots took small but key stops forward and viewers got a little more character development.

The subplot of a student and teacher planning a terrorist attack at the local high school, which at first seemed ridiculous, showed signs of life tonight when it was revealed that the pair is one of the sleeper cells on the terrorist’s list. The subplot is silly at the moment, but it could be a useful part of the overall story later.

On a personal level, I was disgusted by one part of the teacher/student subplot – when the teacher killed the student. This particular scene felt unnecessary to the story and was deeply disturbing to watch.

Thankfully, we got a lot more character development from Carter tonight when he revealed part of his motives for trying to help Grimes and stop the terrorists stem from not keep Grimes off the mission to kill Bin Khalid. It felt authentic could help viewers establish a deeper connection to the new character.

Minutes later, however, we’re supposed to believe that Carter is SO MOTIVATED to stop Grimes from selling the list that he is willing break into a crowded police station and steal $4 million and violate his Army code of ethics. Not only was this twist silly but it has also been done one the show before. In season 8, the former boyfriend of a CTU analyst breaks into a police evidence locker to steal cash. The show managed to make it believable in season 8 but it certainly was not tonight.

24: Legacy – Fresh Story, Same Problems

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24: Legacy is off to a rough start.

The first hour of 24: Legacy was an admirable beginning of the 12-episode series reboot, but it recycled some old plot devices from the old series.

The episode’s final minutes could prove to be the start of an interesting story.

The format of the show is maintained with several storylines simultaneously developing, in the hope they will all somehow weave together in a dramatic finish.

The episode begins with former Army Ranger Eric Carter, who led a mission to kill a high-profile terrorist, being hunted down the by the terrorist’s thugs. After a gritty fight inside Carter’s home, Carter escapes with his wife. But, the show takes a risky turn when the pair flees to the protection of his older brother, who is a drug dealer. The plot twist was the latest in a series of what the old show required – increasingly high suspensions of disbelief.

Separately, outgoing Counter Terrorist Unit Director Rebecca Ingram, played by Miranda Otto enlists a CTU staffer to help Carter. The show takes another comical turn when Ingram incapacitates the new CTU Director in an effort to keep him from discovering her supporting Carter.

This twist may have been believable in the early years of the show and with a more developed character. It’s not credible when a brand new character does it during a series premiere of a reboot.

Not surprisingly, the show’s dialog is wooden, as was the old series’. However, writing smooth, snappy dialogue for an action show with difficult format and time constraints   is extremely difficult.

The show shined in a couple of aspects. Corey Hawkins as Eric Carter could prove to be a worthy replacement as the lead of the franchise, at least for this season.

Hawkins excelled in the episode’s action scenes with confidence and quick thinking.

Miranda Otto brings a calm, smooth demeanor to her role as an effective crisis leader. Her character could prove to be a good match as her husband, Senator John Donovan, runs for president. Donovan is played by Jimmy Smits.

At least for this episode, fans of the old 24 will probably enjoy the new series purely for its format and fast pace.  Viewers like myself, who are looking for an authentic reboot and nuanced story, should remain guardedly optimistic. The end of the episode lays the basis for what sounds like a fresh story that was not portrayed in the old series.

Will 24: Legacy Succeed Without Jack Bauer?

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Welcome to my 24: Legacy blog!

With a healthy dose of skepticism, I will be reviewing the new 24: Legacy series. 

In 2001, I was 18 years old and enjoying my first summer vacation after my freshman year of college. One night, I rented the first disc of season 1 of the original 24 series at my local Blockbuster Video location. I recall seeing the trailers for the show, whose first season had just wrapped, and thought it might be a fun show. 

I popped the DVD in my player and watched the first episode with eager anticipation. When the credits rolled, I sat in disbelief for a moment. I was floored! As a young, immature guy who had not yet developed an appreciation for storytelling on TV, I was hooked on the action and pace of the show. Thus began, in earnest, my love of television as a medium to tell fantastic and engaging shows that make a view reflect, react and discuss the story. Since then, I have become an avid watcher of many shows including The Sopranos, Girls, The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men, Burn Notice, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and others.

When I learned FOX was going to reboot 24 as a 12 episode series, I was nervous. I loved most of the original seasons that starred Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer, but by season 8, the show was struggling to find original material. I enjoyed the final season and was happy the show ended. Ending a show on a high note leaves a viewer wanting more. More importantly, it leaves the viewer with a fond memory of the show’s impact on them. 

When FOX revived the original series with 24: Live Another Day, I was excited. I craved seeing Jack Bauer save the world from certain doom one more time. I was initially skeptical of another season, however, I enjoyed it.

Now, FOX is taking a big risk rebooting one of its best shows in recent history without Jack Bauer and with a fresh cast. As a longtime fan, I am happy. However, as a viewer, I am rather skeptical that the new series will only recycle stories from the old series, but with new characters. Any show that airs for more than several seasons risks of repetitive stories. 

Judging from reviews in other publications, I think the show could be a fun ride. 

Other 24: Legacy reviews: The Hollywood ReporterForbes, Alan Sepinwall, The Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times, RogerEbert.com, Yahoo